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Album Review

On Lift, Greg Howard's new band combines organic communication and improvisation with state-of-the-art electric and acoustic instrumentation, producing a fresh new sound that bridges the traditions of jazz fusion and progressive rock. The highly acclaimed Chapman Stick artist shows clearly that, in capable hands, bass, melody, counterpoint, and chords are all simultaneously possible in the hands of one musician. However, the interplay with his bandmates provides for an additional layer of shapes, improvisations, and expressions from Howard, resulting in full agreement without signs of overindulgence. Leading the way on Chapman Stick and synthesizer, the virtuoso breaks new ground with Dutch bandmembers Jan van Olffen on fretless and fretted electric basses; Jan Wolfkamp on drums, loops, timbales, and percussion; and Hubert Heeringa on soprano and alto saxophones, violin, and wind-controlled synthesizer. Guest Louis Gerrits is also featured on EWI and tenor and soprano saxophones. The group's chemistry is fully on display throughout Lift's 11 original songs, with strong emphasis on rock, jazz, funk, and improvisation. The result is a great hour of music exploring the limitless imagination of the band in a remarkably coherent program. Howard's adept improvisations stand out on such original compositions as the opener "Dissent" and the pensive "Still Water," where he solos on Chapman Stick and produces sounds that resemble a combination of bass and guitar playing together. Heeringa's sonic palette of saxophone lines provides the very expressive melodic content on both "Still Water" and "Chrysalis." Other standout tunes include "Albatross" and "Restless," with excellent percussion by Wolfkamp. Howard's seventh CD, Lift is certainly more entertaining than Sol (his first full-band recording in 1997) or Water on the Moon (his one-hour "live" solo release of 1998), given the expertise and experience his new bandmembers bring to the recording. Their international flair diversifies Howard's musical compositions and improvisations, and should help to solidify his fanbase on the international music scene. [Espresso's 2007 edition included one bonus track.]

Top Albums and Songs by Greg Howard Band

Lift, Greg Howard Band
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: Rock, Music, Jazz
  • Released: Dec 2000

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